Face Recognition of Cattle: Can it be Done?

January 23rd, 2017


“Contrary to popular belief that all cattle look alike, this paper presents a current state of the art research and study in animal biometric based recognition a system which provides an important insight in the identification of cattle based on their facial images.”

– so explain researchers Santosh Kumar, Shrikant Tiwari, and Sanjay Kumar Singh of the Department of Computer Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Shri Shankaracharya Group of Institution, Shri Shankaracharya Technical Campus, Junwani, District-Durg, Bhilai, Chattisgarh, India, in a new paper for the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India Section A: Physical Sciences, June 2016, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 137–148. It’s entitled ‘Face Recognition of Cattle: Can it be Done?’

The team created an image database of 3000 images (300 subjects each with 10 photos) and tested several different computerised methodologies, leading to an answer for their question which, broadly speaking, is ‘Yes’.

“The appearance (holistic) based face recognition approaches, independent component analysis (ICA) [36–38] algorithm yield the recognition accuracy of 86.95 % at the starting level of Gaussian smoothing. The PCA-LiBSVM [17–19, 32, 33, 41, 43] and ICA-LiBSVM [36–38, 41, 43] face recognition approaches provide the recognition accuracy of 95.62 and 95.87 % respectively.”

COMING SOON Other methods of computerized cow recognition that can also be done.

BONUS (facial recog. related): The privacy goggles of Prof. Echizen


Q: what, exactly, did Orville Wright invent? A: a mailbox

January 22nd, 2017

Many people associate the name Orville Wright with the invention of the airplane.

However, Orville Wright invented — and patented — a combined mailbox and lamp:


Was the prayer nut filled with gunk?

January 21st, 2017

“The prayer nut” is the subject of this video, which zeroes in on the question: Was the prayer nut filled with some kind of gunk? Research, careful research, hints that it may indeed have been filled with gunk, and that that gunk may have included fragrant herbs, one of which may have been cannabis.

The maker of the video tells what the prayer nut is. The prayer nut is, in this telling, “a microscopically carved medieval devotional.” The scientist in the video, he who probes the innards of the prayer nut, is Joris Dik.


This is not the only prayer nut. You can visit a prayer nut in The British Museum, in London. You can purchase prayer nuts. You can make prayer nuts, if you have the desire, the time, and perhaps the talent.

Really, there are few limits to what you can do with regard to a prayer nut.

The prize-winning lecture about recognizing bullshit

January 20th, 2017

The 2016 Ig Nobel Peace Prize winners explain about people’s craving for bullshit, in their Ig Informal Lecture, as you see in this video:

The prize was awarded to Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”.

The details of that study: “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit,” Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.

Two days after the ceremony, at the Ig Informal Lectures, the new winners give brief public talks, at MIT, to explain what they did and why they did it. That’s what you see in this video.

January issue of mini-AIR

January 19th, 2017

The January issue of mini-AIR just went out. (mini-AIR is a wee little supplement to the magnificent magazine Annals of Improbable Research.) Topics include:

  • The P-p-p-p-Power of the Words, Words, Words
  • News about the upcoming events in NYC, Boston, and Europe
  • “PPP versus PPPP — What is Wrong in Denmark?”
  • and more
It also has info about upcoming events. And events that are upcoming.

Mel [pictured here] says, “It’s swell.”

mini-AIR is the simplest way to keep informed about Improbable and Ig Nobel news and events.

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